June 19, 2020

Review: More Than Words by Jill Santopolo

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Light We Lost comes a tender and moving new novel about a woman at a crossroads after the death of her father, and caught between the love of two men.

Nina Gregory has always been a good daughter, a good girlfriend. Raised by her father, owner of New York City’s glamorous Gregory Hotels, after her mother’s death, Nina was taught that family, reputation, and legacy are what matter most. And her boyfriend Tim, thoughtful, kind, and honest, not to mention her best friend since childhood, feels the same. But after Nina’s father passes away, she learns he may not have practiced what he preached.

As her world falls apart, Nina begins to question everything she thought she knew and to see the men in her life–her father, her boyfriend, and unexpectedly, her handsome and attentive boss, Rafael–in a new light. Soon Nina finds herself caught between the world she knows and loves, and a passion that could upend everything.

More than Words is a heartbreaking and romantic novel about grief, loss, love, and self-discovery, and how we choose which life we are meant to live. 

More Than Words by Jill Santaopolo
Publication Date: February 5, 2019
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

I originally wanted to pick up More Than Words by author Jill Santopolo almost a year ago, but the hardcover edition was something that my broke, University student pockets just couldn’t afford at the time. I decided to wait until I could find the novel in paperback. And boy, am I happy I made that decision because I already wish I hadn’t gotten it in paperback at all. I don’t mean to bash on More Than Words, so let me backtrack. I first read Santpolo’s The Light We Lost about a week before my should-I-spend-should-I-not-spend debate over More Than Words began.

I had picked up The Light We Lost after a traumatic heartbreak, looking for something to restore my faith in romance. If memory serves, I devoured the novel in about one day. The Light We Lost was poetic. Poignant. The plot progression was stellar. I loved the characters. It was everything I needed at the time. A story of love lost that gutted me. Chef’s kiss, perfection. And I expected to have a similar experience with More Than Words.

            I didn’t.

            The entire plot of More Than Words revolves around the life of Nina Gregory whose father owns a series of luxury hotels in New York City. She’s filthy rich and is currently employed as a speechwriter for one of the city’s mayoral candidates. But tragedy strikes in the form of her father’s death. Now, Nina is expected to take over her family’s business, while also falling for her boss while she’s also in a relationship— whatever will she do?

            ‘Boo-hoo’ is about all I could think while reading More Than Words. Don’t get me wrong, Santopolo’s writing is still pretty. She’s a wonderful author. But I couldn’t stand the characters in this book. At all. Every character was two-dimensional and lacked any relatability or likeability. Reading about these excessively wealthy characters whine and complain about coming from an excessively wealthy place in society just wasn’t doing it for me. Not to mention that every ‘problem’ that arose in Nina’s story just seemed so forced. You mean to tell me that in her mid-thirties she never once thought that maybe, just maybe, her multi-millionaire father might be doing some shady shit to stay rich? Give me a break.

            I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but I couldn’t even get through the first half of the novel. I skimmed through because I did like the romance between Rafael and Nina, but even then, I felt like there wasn’t any sexual tension. It was just decided that they have sexual tension after looking at each other across a room or something equally lackluster. Bummer.

            Anyways, I wouldn’t really recommend More Than Words unless you’re a fan of reading about the excessive lives of an American multi-millionaire’s child. And even then, I’d probably just tell you to go watch Gossip Girl or KUWTK while you play on your phone instead. At least then you aren’t totally wasting your time.

Jill Santopolo is the author of the The Light We Lost, the Alec Flint Mysteries, the Sparkle Spa series, and the Follow Your Heart books. She holds a BA in English Literature from Columbia University, an MFA in Writing for Children from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, and a certificate in Intellectual Property Law from NYU. Jill is also the Editorial Director of Philomel Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group. When she’s not writing or editing, Jill is a thesis advisor at The New School in their MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults and is on the faculty of the Columbia Publishing Course. Jill has traveled all over the U.S.—and to Canada and Europe—to speak about writing and storytelling. She lives in New York City.

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1 Comment

  1. Ethan

    I can see how a character of such privilege could be hard to get behind. After all, if I don’t like the characters I probably won’t like the book.

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